Kalman: How Bruins' Torey Krug is becoming a bigger hit beyond Boston

Matt Kalman
May 28, 2019 - 6:08 pm

Torey Krug hits.

Sure he’s one of the most dynamic offensive defensemen in the NHL, he’s the Bruins’ maestro on their lethal power play and a vocal leader that’s almost always among the handful of Bruins that speaks for the team, win or lose.

But he can also be physical, although the national reporters who dropped into Boston for the Stanley Cup Final after not watching more than a few Bruins games all season seemed to think Krug’s explosive check of Robert Thomas in the third period of Game 1 on Monday was as rare as Haley’s Comet.

The Bruns went on to beat the St. Louis Blues 4-2 and will take their 1-0 series lead into Game 2 on Wednesday.

Over the years the diminutive (generously listed at 5-foot-9, 180 pounds) Krug has nailed his share of opposing puck carriers and puck chasers in the heat of battle.

“I have a few hits here and there. If you don’t watch our team that much you probably don’t realize that because of my stature and all of that. But you can go back through the archives, I’m sure you’ll find a few good ones.”

“I have a few hits here and there. If you don’t watch our team that much you probably don’t realize that because of my stature and all of that. But you can go back through the archives, I’m sure you’ll find a few good ones.

“There’s a few of them. Ask Matt, he keeps them all in his phone.”

I could’ve cut that quote sooner, but why miss a chance to inject yourself into your own story? Sorry Torey, my phone only has 80s music, podcasts and pictures of my son. But it was easy enough to find Krug’s hits on YouTube, and anyone that watches the Bruins regularly knows Krug can be a rabid racoon in the corners and when has a clear path to a hit, like against Thomas, it’s an early Fourth of July.

And Krug’s teammates love it.

“Yeah it was pretty cool,” forward Brad Marchand said. “There’s a lot of plays that people look back on in playoffs, talk about for a long time. That’ll be one of them. You know it’s not often you see a guy throw a hit like that without a helmet on, especially a small person like that.”

The 5-9, 183-pound Marchand never misses a chance to take a dig at his fellow lilliputian, in interviews or on social media. But it’s all fair because Krug often fires back, and the defenseman has something of Marchand’s that he’s not likely to give back: an undershirt.

Krug acquired Marchand’s shirt during a road trip early this season (it was either swiped or willingly passed along) and Krug’s been playing great, even setting a career high for assists with 47 in regular season and picking up 12 points (one goal, 11 assists) in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Then there’s the Freaky Friday stuff, the fact that Krug has suddenly taken on a lot of Marchand’s agitator persona.

Witness Krug and St. Louis’ David Perron tangling in front of the Boston net moments before Krug’s hit on Thomas. Think back to Krug and Carolina captain Justin Williams going toe to toe with Williams taking at least one minor penalty as a result of Krug’s instigating in the Eastern Conference final.

“He’s rocking my shirt under his jersey, so I don’t know if he’s just trying to buy in to all that. But he’s doing a good job,” Marchand said.

Krug might have even rattled goaltender Jordan “Mr. Robot” Binnington with a death stare after the Thomas hit.

"His pupils were pretty big. I don’t know if he’s on something, but … he was pretty fired up,” Binnington said.

Starting with his rookie performance in the playoffs in 2013, when he had six points (four goals, two assists) in 15 games, Krug has thrived in the postseason. He has 40 points (10 goals, 30 assists) in 56 playoff games. This year his defense has been as important as his offense, with him teaming up with Brandon Carlo to shut down the likes of Columbus’ Artemi Panarin and Carolina’s Teuvo Teravainen

“Well they’ve been dynamite for us,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “I think Torey’s been a little bit underappreciated this playoff with his ability to defend, to be quite honest. … You watch video, he’s boxing out big guys every night, committed to that. He’s not leaving the zone early, he’s making sure the puck’s going out of the zone before he is. All the little things that make you a good defensive defenseman, the commitment to stay in the battle, have been excellent.

A complete defenseman with the ability to irritate opponents on par with Marchand is going to make a pretty penny on the open market, if he gets there, as a 29-year-old unrestricted free agent in 2020. As it is he’s already charging the Bruins $5.25 million on their salary cap.

But that’s a tale for after the Final and after July 1. For now he’ll keep giving the Bruins bang for their buck, just like he always has, even if not many have noticed the physical side of his game beyond all the offensive flair.

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